Archive for February, 2008


Pattern: Peacock Feathers shawl by Dorothy Siemens from Fiddlesticks

Made for: My Godmom

Yarn: JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool-Silk Yarn, 2/18 Lace Weight (50% Chinese Tussah silk, 50% fine grade Merino wool), Violet Colorway

Yardage: I estimate I used about 1220 yards of Zephyr. My “one-pound” cone originally weighed 17.3 oz and now weighs 13.4 oz — I used 3.9 oz of yarn — and according to Ravelry a 16.1 oz cone should yield 5040 yards of yarn)

Yarn Source: Sarah’s Yarns

Needles: US size 4 KnitPicks Options circular needles

Modifications: None


Dorothy’s reflections on her design process from Knitting Beyond the Hebrides provides wonderful insight into the design process.


This pattern is unbelievably easy to knit and work with. The hardest part for me was reading the charts both ways. Basically, since the pattern is a mirror-image of itself along the center spine of the shawl, you work the chart from right-to-left (which to me is the “normal” way) and then once you reach the end of the chart you’re at the center-point of the shawl and you work the chart backwards, mirroring exactly the work you’ve just done.

I really struggle with messing up visual things and so reversing the slip-slip-knit and knit-two-together stitches, and symbols, was a challenge. I literally had to write out a big box for myself at the top of the pattern reminding me which was which, and I constantly referred to my little diagrams.

Other than the reverses, the only other thing to keep an eye on is the double yarn-overs, which will fall apart on the wrong (all purl) side of the piece unless you purl and then knit. This was hard for me to remember as the purl rows were my space-out rows and I had to go back more than once to re-do them.

Sadly, even though this pattern was so relatively easy, I managed to lose track of my knitting twice. Once it was so bad that I had to rip back about 10 rows to my lifeline. When things went south the second time, I fought back and was actually able to rescue the lace. More details on lace resuscitation can be found in my post on the ordeal here.


One of my favorite parts of this shawl is the edging, which is actually knit back and forth as part of the shawl instead of as a later add-on that must be knit perpendicular to the shawl edge. If you’ve never worked a crochet hook before, don’t despair. All that’s required for this edging is simple single-crochet and if you mess it up the crochet is stretched out so much that it will never show up anyway. In the below photo, each pin is securing a crochet loop and you can see that the loops are pulled tight.


Right off the needles, it was clear that Peacock Feathers is a beautiful pattern. More than other lace I’ve worked, it had character beyond the mushroom-of-fiber that most lace resembles. I really got the sense of the texture and pattern of the piece from the unblocked finished product:

I don’t know why, but a photo of lace in a blocking bath just looks yummy to me! Here is Peacock Feathers resting in a bowl of warm water and a capful of Soak wool wash (the best stuff — thanks to Mick for turning me on to it!)

I really blocked the crap out of this sucker, making each feathery flourish as rounded as I could make it.  I’ve seen other shawls out there with more linear edges, but for mine I wanted a look that was as scalloped as I could get.

The shawl was so large that I blocked one whole side first, from the left tip all the way down to the central “feather” and even one feather beyond (this was necessary to make the central feather block out correctly).  Once the first half was blocked, I re-dunked the still-slightly-damp second half of the shawl and blocked it the same way.  I used blocking wires secured with T-pins to secure the top, straight edge of the shawl and I ran a second blocking wire down the center-line to help keep things even.

This isn’t the most gorgeous finished-object final shot ever, but it gives a good sense of the drape and airy lightness of the piece.  It’s as elegant and unique as it’s namesake!


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I wish this was an angry rant about the sleeves for the Tangled Yoke Cardigan.  (There’s another photo here for those not on Ravelry.  If you knit and you’re not on the list, go join up.  I’m serious.  Stop reading and go get on the waitlist!)  I wish there was something really wrong with the sleeves, with the pattern, with the yarn that I’m using (The Maine Line from Jaggerspun in French Blue) or even with the recipient of the sweater.   Fortunately for my stepmom, both her arms are roughly the same length.

Today’s rant is simply about my inability to count.  Because clearly I can’t.

The sad truth behind my penchant for two-at-once socks is that it prevents the embarrasment of creating a pair of socks where one is a little longer or taller or shorter (or whatever) that the other.

For the Tangled Yoke Cardigan, I’m working from a 1 lb cone of yarn and so I didn’t want to have to do a lot of guessing (and splicing) in order to determine how much yarn each sleeve would need.  I figured hey, I can count just fine, and I even made myself a little excel chart telling me when to increase, when to change from the garter-rib pattern to stockinette, and giving myself little check-boxes to keep track of my progress.  Yes, sisters, I can hear you laughing at me right now.

So the only thing I can conclude, after finishing one sleeve and working halfway through the second, is that I am just unable to keep track of things at all and therefore I must always work socks and sleeves at the same time to (hopefully) be sure that they’ll come out the same length.

So it’s off to the frog pond for me, to rip out an entire sleeve and more than half of a second one.  Perhaps from now on I’ll stick to tank tops.

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A newt on the loose

Last weekend (yes, I know, I’m behind) I had two knitting buddies over for Sunday afternoon knitting and pizza.  The Baron was quite excited that I was having people over and made quite a fuss about getting us food and making sure the fish tanks were in tip-top show-off shape.  He even offered to go out and pick up our food for us when the time came.  But.  Right before the ladies were scheduled to arrive I noticed that he seemed to be searching for something in the kitchen near the smallest of our fish tanks.   He seemed agitated and finally he confessed: he bought a newt  for the little tank and it had escaped.

Back  in the days of apartment living we had a few tank-escapees.  Once a beta fish flipped himself out of his bowl and onto the carpet, gasping in air and covering himself in dust until finally we got home and found him.  It was amazing — who knows how long he was flopping around on the floor — but once we put him back in his bowl he seemed to shake off the grit and was back to normal within a matter of minutes.  Another time a shrimp got out of the tank.  They are so small and colorless that we didn’t even notice the shrimp was missing until we found the crispy-dry, clear carcass of the shrimp under a table.

This time, with company coming, I didn’t want to wait until a guest found a sticky creature in her hair, or felt a warm squish under her shoe, to find the newt.  The Baron to the rescue: he guessed that the newt would head for the darkest, coolest place possible.  And there, behind the fridge, we found the newt.

Epilogue: I finished the Peacock Feathers shawl Sunday afternoon — it’s spread over the dining-room table, waiting to be blocked.  Photos and round-up to follow!

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